May 16 1888
Taranaki Clubs inflict first loss on Great Britain.
Taranaki rugby won its first international scalp against Great Britain in 1888, a year before the Taranaki RFU was formally established. It was Britain’s first tour loss, after five wins and a draw.
The “Taranaki Herald” reported the visit of the British team very fully. To their credit they were able to include a report on the game in their match day edition, with an account of the aftermatch function appearing the next day.
“FULL ACCOUNT OF THE MATCH.
The weather was the great theme on Tuesday night. Much expectation was indulged in as to what the weather would be on the morrow, as the sky was very overcast and there was every indication of rain. Some prognosticated bad weather, others, more sanguine, considered it would hold off for Wednesday, as the barometer was keeping up so well. This latter view turned out correct, for Wednesday was ushered in with a clouded, but not rainy looking, sky, and every indication that if rain was at hand it would not fall this day.
The reception for the Britishers was arranged by the Working Committee on Tuesday night, it being decided that they should all meet in town half an hour before the arrival of the s.s. Wanaka, which was not expected until a quarter to 12 o’clock, and then proceed to the breakwater in brakes. They would give the Britishers a formal reception, drive them into town to the White Hart, where they would lunch and rest, and then between 1 and 2 o’clock the Rifles Band, under Mr G. Garry, would play them up to the arena of strife — the racecourse.
The arrivals on Tuesday night by the through train were : Messrs G. Bayly (Taranaki umpire), H. Kivell (full back), C. E. Major (forward) ; and by this train also two of the Britishers — Messrs T. Banks and A. P. Pinketh — arrived from Wellington and put up at the White Hart. The former of these last got an injury to his knee in the Wellington match. All the remainder of the local team, with the exception of Snook, Veale, C. Bayly, and Tate, were in town on Tuesday night, the ones mentioned coming into town to-day (Wednesday). The Hawera men objected to Tyrer taking Hempton’s place, on the ground principally that Hine, of Tikorangi, was considered first waiting man and should therefore get the position. It was decided or agreed on that this was the right view to take of the matter, and it was understood that Hine would take his place in the team as wing in place of A. Good, who would be brought back to three-quarters. Several flags were flying, two or three bearing the Isle of Man symbol, these being put up in honor of Mr Pinketh, who is a countryman of those who disported the bunting of the island.
The Wanaka passed Opunake at 8 o’clock, and the Reception Committee, thanks to Mr W. L. Newman, could time their visit to the breakwater to meet the visitors opportunely. The Mayor, Colonel Stapp, Dr Leatham, Messrs Downes, Standish, Paul, J. B. Roy, W. L. Newman, G. J. Newman, G. Corke, R. Cock, T. Hempton, H. Bayly, R. Cameron, F. Stohr, J. Joll, A. Atkinson, G. Bayly, H. Kivell, C. E. Major, and others, who formed the Reception Committee went out to the breakwater about 11.30, and arrived in time for the steamer. A great number went on board to greet the Britishers, who looked a sturdy lot, and the Mayor gave them a formal welcome to Taranaki. The visitors were then driven into town in brakes, and had lunch at the Criterion Hotel. Messrs Lillywhite and Shrewsbury were with the team, as was Mr Lawler, a Victorian player, who with Mr P. McShane, who missed the boat at Wellington, are coaching the Britishers in the Victorian game. Stoddart, who got injured in Christchurch, also came up. They speak of the Wellington match on Saturday last as the roughest they ever played, and consider that the rough handling on both sides was due to the Wellington players. With regard to their reception in Otago and Canterbury, they could not speak in high enough terms. After luncheon the Britishers met and chose the team to play the match.
The Taranaki men also met to consider the vacancy caused by Hempton’s non ability to play, and also to elect a captain. They decided that W. Hine, the waiting man, should go in as a forward or wing, and A. Good, who was placed on the wing, should come back to three-quarters. A. Bayly was elected captain. The outside arrivals by the train from Hawera were numerous, there being 12 carriages, closely packed with visitors from Wanganui upwards, a great contingent coming from Hawera. The country settlers were also numerous in town, and altogether things looked this morning as if everyone was intent on having a holiday to see the trial of skill between the two teams. Three cheers were given for the Britishers at the breakwater, and also in town.
At 2 o’clock the Band, under Mr Garry, marched down from the bandroom, played “The Red, White, and Blue,” and then escorted the players up to the racecourse.
The men were not long in making their appearance on the ground, the local players in their amber und black uniforms being the first to take the field, amid the cheers of the onlookers. Then the Britishers, prettily clad in the appropriate red, white, and blue, filed into the field, and the cheering was renewed with increased vigour. The teams then cheered each other heartily, and proceeded to take up their positions.
Before the teams arrived a vast concourse of people had assembled around the arena, which was fenced all round, in the grandstand top and bottom, and on all the points of vantage adjacent. The ladies were in great numbers, and many wore the colours of the local team, while some sported the Britishers’ red, white, and blue. The only game that was on the grounds was Mr Butterworth’s “bird on the wing;” while Mr H. Julian had a publican’s booth in the stand. Dr. Smith umpired for the visitors, Mr G. Bayly for the local men, and Mr F. Bayly acted as referee. The Rifles Band were on the ground and contributed several musical gems. As the teams filed on to the ground they were both heartily cheered.”
Note. Because the “Taranaki Herald” run of play is quite long a shorter account follows.
“The weather for the match was beautifully fine and a good attendance of 3000 was present to see the start of play. Seddon won the toss and chose to play from the northern end of the ground with the wind and sun in his favour.
Promptly at 3 p.m. Joll, the Hawera club forward, set the game in motion. Early in the match the tourists generally had the better of play through their forwards, though they were by no means having things all their own way.
Anderton was having a brilliant game and almost scored on several occasions, but fine defensive work by Kivell and Tate kept the Taranaki line intact. Towards the end of the first half the home team survived a period of great pressure and deserved to reach the interval without having conceded a point.
In the second half Taranaki adopted the visitors’ style of play and the pace of the game was terrific, with little scrummaging. Finally, after a series of attacks, the only points of the match went to the local side. Securing possession in midfield, Alf Bayly put in a brilliant run to within a few yards of the British line. The ball came back to Harry Good, who charged over the line for a try close to the posts. Coghill was entrusted with the kick but was unable to convert.
The crowd was now very excited, and the tourists resumed with a “do or die” approach. Speakman had a pot at goal which only just missed. As time went by, the tension mounted until, with just a minute remaining and Taranaki hard on defence, there was a scramble in the corner with one of the visitors hurling himself over the line. However, the referee and Taranaki umpire ruled that there was no try, much to the disappointment of the British team. Thus the match ended in an historic 1-0 victory for the home team.
The tourists said later that this was the hardest match they had played so far on tour, though it had been played a good spirit throughout. The Bayly and Good brothers, together with Major and Veale, were Taranaki’s outstanding performers, with Penketh, Eagles, Seddon, Anderton and Haslam among the British winning praise from their opposition.”
“The Visitors” R H Chester & N A C McMillan, Moa Publications, pub. 1990 p.34.
The “Taranaki Herald” continued their account of the Great Britain visit in their May 17 edition.
“VISIT OF BRITISH FOOTBALL TEAM
EXCITEMENT AT CONCLUSION OF GAME.
(Continued from yesterday.)
At the conclusion of the match the ground was rushed by the crowd of spectators, and the ovation the local men got for their splendid win was terrific; the cheering being kept up as the men (both teams) wended their way to the robing room in the saddling paddock, and was even kept up there. Harry Good , whose fine run and touch down gave Taranaki the win, was carried off shoulder high, and deservedly so. The run was a wonder. He started about 40 yards in front of the Britishers’ goal with the ball, ran through the thick of his opponents, got floored, but freed himself, two of the Britishers being shaken off their feet as he scrambled on the ground. He then made a run for the touch line, pursued by Anderton, who just grassed him on the line. As chronicled yesterday, Coghill’s attempt at goal from the try was a failure.
DINNER TO THE BRITISH TEAM.
At 7 o’clook a dinner was given the visitors in the Criterion Hotel, the Mayor presiding. On his right he was supported by Dr. Brooke, deputy captain of the British team, and on his left by A. Bayly, captain of the Taranaki team. The vice-chair was filled by Dr. O’Carroll, who was supported on his right by Dr. Smith, and on his left by Dr. Leatham. There were also present besides the footballers and those closely connected with the game, Colonel Stapp, and Messrs Paul, Downes, Hughes, Corkill, Roy, Garry, Dingle, Joll, and others. The dinner was served in excellent style by Mr Cottier, and after it had received justice from those present, the Chairman proposed the usual loyal toasts..
The Chairman then proposed ” Our Visitors,” and in doing so made a few remarks. He stated that he never took any great interest in the game hitherto, but Wednesday afternoon’s match was a treat to witness, and now he really thought that he could take a very big interest in this manly game. He said that he was glad the local men had won; and he had been so sanguine that they would that he had made a bet of a new hat that the local men would be victorious. He considered that the Taranaki team need not be afraid of any in New Zealand after this victory, when it was taken into consideration that the visitors had won so many victories, and only met defeat here. The visitors be hoped would leave with good impressions of the place. (Applause.)
Dr. Brooks, deputy captain, in responding, apologised for the absence of Mr Seddon, who had been indisposed after the match. He said that though he could not sympathise with the chairman in winning his hat, yet they would take away with them pleasant recollections of the game — though not a pleasant result to them — for the manly spirit in which it was played. They would always remember their visit to Taranaki, and the kind manner in which they had been treated there when they returned to the Old Country. He congratulated the local team on the play of their backs and forwards, but considered that their team as a travelling one was handicapped. However, he hoped that their team would leave behind them impressions of their visit, and that their passing would be a lesson to New Zealand footballers. (Applause).
The Chairman then proposed the Rugby Union, coupled with the name of Dr. O’Carroll, who, in responding, said that although a President of a Rugby Club, still up to that afternoon he had been a devotee of the Association game, but now he had been thoroughly converted to the Rugby game (applause).
Dr O’Carroll made a few remarks on financial matters in connection with the Unions, as he said that many had to lose valuable time in following up the game, and never got recompensed for it. The next toast was ” kindred sports,” coupled with Mr Paul’s name.
Mr Paul, in rising to respond, said that kindred sports took in many games, as boating, cricket, tennis, and he might be permitted to say bowling, which was a game for ladies advanced in life (laughter). He recognised in football the qualities of a manly game, but for those who preferred something not so hard he would recommend bowling as a healthy exercise, with plenty of skill and excitement in it. He then referred to the unbeaten record that Taranaki had in football and bowls, and hoped that their reputation would be upheld.
Mr Laing here sang a Scotch comic song, and on being encorded gave another.
The ” Army and Navy and Volunteers” followed, and in responding to it Colonel Stapp said that it was a sign that British pluck had in no way deteriorated when these footballers came all the way from the Old Country and fought such fine games as that witnessed on the course that day. (Applause.) It showed what the Britishers were made of.
Comic songs were here sung by Messrs Bumby ond Nolan.
Dr. Brooks then, with the permission of the Chairman, proposed the health of the Taranaki Team, coupled with Dr. Leatham’s name. He congratulated the team on their victory, and said that the game was fought out in a very enjoyable manner. (Applause.)
Dr. Leatham, in reply, said that the victory was a well earned one, and reflected great credit on the local team. The visitors had worked very hard for victory also, and he hoped that the local men would profit by their combination play. (Applause.)
A song by Dr. Brooks followed.
“The Ladies” was then proposed, coupled with Dr. Smith’s name.
In responding, Dr. Smith stated that he had attended many football dinners, but he had to come out to Taranaki to reply to this toast. He did not know why he had been selected, but he supposed it was because it was thought that his profession would enable him to pass better judgment on the qualifications of the ladies. (Laughter). Dr. Smith made a few more remarks, winding up by saying that he hoped some day to be put in the category of the Benedicts.
A comic song was then sung by Mr Eagles.
Dr. O’Carroll proposed the toast of “The Umpires and Referee,” making a few remarks in doing so.
Dr. Smith said that as he appeared to be the only one of the three present, he would have to respond to the toast. Dr Smith then made a few appropriate remarks.
Mr Paul proposed the toast of “The local agent for the Union S.S. Company (Mr W. L. Newman).” Mr Paul then thanked Mr Newman for the delaying of the steamer, which had given them this enjoyable evening. He said that all who ever had dealings with Mr Newman could testify to his courteous and obliging ways. (Applause.)
Song: — Mr Corks.
Dr. Smith then thanked the Mayor for the way they had been treated while here, after which Mr Laing sang “Auld Lang Syne,” the company coming in at the chorus.
The visitors went out in brakes to the steamer, which left at 10.30 o’clock, amidst great cheering.
The Committee met at Mr Low’s office this (Thursday) morning, and totalled up the receipts, which came to £120 2s 7½d. Of this £23 18s 6d was taken for the stand, and half of this, £11 19s 3d, goes to the Jockey Club for the use of it. When the total was made up there was one return to come in for tickets sold, and it was estimated that it would total £10. There will be about enough money to pay the Britishers their £70 and clear expenses.”